By Rob McDaniel
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — More than 225 Laurel County children had a very special day Saturday when dozens of police officers from the London Police Department and the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office joined them for a morning of Christmas shopping.
The Kmart shopping spree was sponsored by the Laurel County Shop with a Cop program.
In its 18th year, Shop with a Cop has provided the means for Laurel County children to have a little extra during this holiday season.
Chris Edwards, vice-chairman of the Shop with a Cop program in Laurel County, said the program is all about providing kids with that little extra to make their Christmas bright.
Each of the 225 children were given $100 to spend, $70 on clothes and the rest on whatever they want.
“This program started 18 years ago as a community outreach,” Edwards said. “We only had 10 kids that year, but as you can see it has grown into something so much bigger.”
Edwards credits the program’s growth to the generous donations from people throughout the community.
“So many people want to give to this program,” Edwards said. “We have two or three churches that make significant donations as well as businesses and donations from individuals. Sometimes people will come to shop on the morning that we do Shop with a Cop and, when they find out what’s going on, they open their wallets.”
The police officers were as excited as the kids about the annual Christmas event. They spent the morning handing out candy canes, talking with families and offering opinions on what the coolest toys were.
“This program is really amazing,” London Police Chief Stewart Walker said. “Officers from the London City Police and the Sheriff’s Department work really hard to make this program what it is today. We’re so proud and honored to be able to spend time with these great kids.”
Among the morning shoppers were brothers Mason and Joshua Nantz. Accompanied by Deputy Gilbert Accardio, the Nantz brothers excitedly browsed the clothes department, trying to decide what they wanted the most.
“I got all I wanted this year,” said Mason, 7, as he held up a pair of blue gloves.
Getting his Christmas wish of having a warm pair of gloves didn’t stop Mason’s face from lighting up when he, his brother and Accardio moved on to the toy section.
Mason and Joshua, 10, picked out toys and, having spent all their money, went to checkout.
“I love Shop with a Cop,” Joshua said while waiting in line. “It’s so much fun. You get to buy a lot of cool stuff and the cops are so nice. They arrest the bad guys.”
Along with many other children Saturday morning, as the brothers were leaving the store, they thanked the police officers and even shared a hug or two; a gesture that most of the officers present agreed made the day just that much more special.